Heavy snow and frigid temperatures caused further disruption across northern Europe yesterday — stranding travelers, snarling traffic and shutting schools. More than 1,000 flights at Germany’s main airports in Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin were canceled and many more delayed after up to 40cm of fresh snow blanketed the country. Some 500 stranded passengers slept on cots at Frankfurt airport.
Airlines advised passengers to switch to trains if possible after the new snow added to two week’s worth of accumulation, but rail operator Deutsche Bahn, struggling to cope with packed trains and a crush of passengers, urged passengers to stay home.
Tempers flared as Germans accustomed to timely trains and planes were forced to wait in freezing stations or packed terminals, as the unusually heavy snow delayed millions of commuters.
“The trains are always too late now,” said Lothar Ast, 57, a custodian shivering in a Berlin station. “They’re so crowded that you can’t get on and then you have to wait for another.”
Dorothea Fuerst, a Berlin sales clerk, added: “No one knows if the train will come or not. The train never arrives on time. Will it be 15 minutes or half an hour? That’s the question.”
Children’s sledges were sold out in Germany, retailers said.
“This much snow is only fun if you’re a kid,” Berlin lawyer Katja-Julia Fischer, 42, said. “It’s getting on my nerves.”
Germany’s most populous state, North-Rhine Westphalia, took the unusual step of banning trucks from motorways in a bid to keep passenger traffic rolling. A rail worker was killed in Berlin, run over by a train while trying to de-ice a switch.
Belgium also closed its motorways to truck traffic after there was a peak of 600km of traffic jams at the height of the rush hour yesterday morning in the Wallonia region.
In the UK, British Airways said the severe weather continued to cause significant disruption to operations. Only one of two runways at London Heathrow was operating after a snowstorm paralyzed the airport over the weekend, stranding thousands.
Other UK airports were open, but many flights were canceled or subject to long delays, and many passengers spent a second night at an airport terminal.
“There is the risk of further snow across parts of southern Britain tonight and through tomorrow,” Met Office chief forecaster Steve Willington said.
Northern France was also covered by heavy snow, disrupting road and rail traffic as Parisians braved clogged highways to reach their holiday destinations. Air travel was reduced at Paris’ two main airports, with Orly airport shutting down briefly and stranded travelers still camping out at Charles de Gaulle.
Train travel between Paris, London and Brussels on the Eurostar line was disrupted, partly because of speed restrictions, the company said on its Web site, adding that sales were closed for travel up to and including Friday.
In Poland, six people froze to death on Sunday night, raising the death toll to 114 in the last month.
Heavy snow also snarled Warsaw traffic again yesterday.
The Czech Republic’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution that supports a possible visit by the senate president to Taiwan. The resolution, initiated by Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, was passed with 50 votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The resolution blasts Beijing for having its Prague embassy send a letter to former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera earlier this year threatening repercussions for Czech businesses if he visited Taiwan. The resolution shows the Senate’s support for a visit to Taiwan by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Czech business representatives, as the visit would be in the diplomatic long-term interests
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,
STRONGER DEFENSES: The announcement could be considered tacit US support for the nation’s indigenous arms manufacturing program, Joseph Wu told lawmakers Just hours after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration on Wednesday, the US Department of State’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced in Washington the possible sale of 18 MK-48 Heavy Weight Torpedoes to Taiwan. Reacting to the announcement, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the ministry applauded the US move, which would help to uphold the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA states that the US should “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character … to maintain the capacity of the US to resist any resort
NPP WARNING: The NPP’s chairman said that a security law proposed by Beijing means it has renounced its promise to maintain ‘one country, two systems’ in HK The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday proposed changing the law to provide protection for those seeking political asylum. China at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Thursday introduced a draft security law for Hong Kong to ban treason, subversion and sedition, with a review expected next week. TPP caucus whip Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that the party is concerned about democracy advocates in Hong Kong and has taken action to support them. The party has proposed an amendment to Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), which stipulates that the government can offer